Shar 3: Beating Out A Scene

Lani’s cleaning house today, Krissie’s pedal to the metal on a borrowed computer she hates, and I’m grocery shopping and trying to figure out my last scene in this act.

I am getting a lot done, I think, but it’s because it’s a collaboration. If I get stuck, I go in to Campfire and yell, “Help!” (because if I yell “Fire” nobody comes), and Lani or Krissie or both log on and we talk it out. Plus I owe these women. If I zone out in a panic attack, they can’t move forward. Collaborating really speeds up my process.

But now I have an elide and a scene to write to finish out this act, and it’s not the big finish, Daisy gets that one, and it has to do several things:

It has to complete Shar’s arc of getting to know and getting comfortable with her powers.

It has to foreshadow the end of Act Three because I wrote a piece of scene that does that and we rearranged the book so that it works better that way.

It has to arc the romance, which right now is sprained because she won’t sleep with him and while she has some good reasons, the guy’s a god and he wants her and he’s a sweetheart to boot. I’m not contriving the conflict, I really think she wouldn’t, but I haven’t got it on the page yet.

It has to be about painting a mural and naming a coffee house.

It has to get in some back story that’s Lani’s been sniping at me for. (I hate back story.)

And about forty other things I don’t remember.

But first, I went to the grocery and got stuff to make cookies. For the book. No, really. Then I came home and Campfired with Krissie for awhile with the dogs curled up on the bed. I bought them chew toys at the grocery, but Milton ate a Dick Blick catalog instead. And then I tried to block out the beats for tomorrow’s scene.

So what are beats? They’re units of conflict within a scene, scenettes, if you like.

In the scene I wrote yesterday, the first beat is Shar walking home with Sam, arguing with him.

Then something happens, a mini turning point, and they have to deal with a problem, and she’d have to be a heartless bitch not to stop arguing and help, so the second beat is them working together and him doing everything right, even though she’s still angry with him. This second beat has higher stakes because she still has good reason to be leery of him, but he’s really admirable. So now she’s torn.

Then something happens, another turning point, and the stakes in the scene get higher for her, she’s more tempted to relent, and she acts to escape, which deepens her knowledge of Sam and makes things more difficult for her.

When that beat breaks, she moves away, trying to solve her problem, and her solution actually leads to an even more intimate connection that ends when she finally walks away, terrified, but changed from who she was at the beginning of the scene, in conjunction with the way their relationship has changed.

I need to go back and make sure that both Shar and the relationship arc through those four beats. Also Sam, also Wolfie, and Shar’s use of her powers. Each one of those beats has a microscopic shift in it for all five of those story aspects. And they all have to be well-motivated.

But I’ll do that in the rewrite, not in the first draft.

So I have beats for tomorrow’s scene sketched in: Shar painting the mural and arguing with Daisy, Shar using her powers to help Abby and pointing out the problem with that to Daisy, and then the break-in which is not Shar vs. Daisy, but I can figure that out–but what I really worked on tonight was the elide. It’s shorter but trickier than a scene, and mine is actually way too long, but I’m going to leave it like that until I get the whole act done–tomorrow!–in rough and I can see where I’m repeating and what the reader doesn’t need to know. I love writing this fast, it keeps it so fresh, but I think it only works in collaborations. I can do 40,000 words this way, but I don’t think I can do 100.

2020 Note: Try “segue” for “elide.” It’s really a slide/transition kind of thing. Anyway, don’t get hung up on it. I babble.

Shar 2: Aimless E-mails and Eggless Muffins

Well, I meant to get a lot done today. And I did, reading Lani’s and Krissie’s scenes and adding comments and doing some minor revisions on my scenes. And writing the rough of that Shar vs. Sam scene and that wasn’t easy. But mostly this day has been one of those weird jerky ones where I’d get so far and then turn right.

I got the rest of the hardware cloth on the deck and cleared off some of the stuff that didn’t belong there.

I made whole wheat muffins and then noticed as I was taking them out of the oven that the egg the mix called for was still sitting there. Plus they were whole wheat so, as Lani pointed out, I deserved what I got. I told her they were so vile nobody would eat them. She said, “Try Milton.” Milton ate a piece.

I caught up all the blog moderations and checked the comments for wingnuts (not you).

I discussed beats in Lani’s scene with Lani, we tried to figure out what the ceremony of a goddess welcoming her priestesses would be like, Lani and Krissie and I tried to figure out together what our characters would do when they got the good news they were demi-goddesses (Daisy asks, “Do you get dental with that?”), and we discussed what typeface the dogs should talk in . . . full day.

And in and around that I talked with my agent and with my brother and answered e-mails, even the ones from Bob saying that aliens use amusement parks as a cover and that all water rides have alligators. He also quizzed me on who the first vice president was. I think he was bored.

But I got that damn scene done. First draft rough, but by god it’s done.

And I threw out the muffins.

The Twelve Days of Shar

So I have insomnia. I have to be up by noon, which wouldn’t be a problem except it’s 7AM. But I can’t sleep because Dogs and Goddesses is running through my head like Milton through the house with a tuna fish package. (Don’t ask.) We’re pedal to the metal this week on Act Two, and that’s where everything kicks into gear. It’s interesting writing with Lani and Krissie because we have such different processes that you’d think we’d clash, but we give each other such freedom that it loosens us all up, I think. I’m the one who’s the drag on the process because I rewrite incessantly, but they’re patient and I’m grateful.

So Act Two is where I have to put Shar and Sam in motion, and as usual, there’s too much talking in my scenes, I’m forgetting to arc the character, forgetting pretty much everything I know, so these nights when I have insomnia are really good because my mind races and I can think things through and all kinds of stuff shows up. I have five scenes to write for Act Two: one of them on its third draft and the rest are roughed in. So I decided to do the Twelve Days of Shar here, even though we’re blogging the book on D&G because that would be hogging D&G. And because this is going to be the fastest I’ve ever done a book–we’ve decided to crash on through since we’ve done so much prewriting and brainstorming–so for once the Twelve Day Plan should work.

Fingers crossed anyway.